We here at USA TODAY High School Sports love a good-natured debate. Every Wednesday, we'll invite you into our sometimes serious, sometimes light-hearted (but always passionate) takes on various topics that pertain to high school sports, and feature commentary from high school athletes. We invite everyone to sound off in the comments and on Twitter and Facebook. Go ahead, tell us why we're wrong. We'll try not to take it personally.
QUESTION: Is it fair for coaches to suspend players for something they post on Twitter or Facebook?
Jim Halley, Reporter
Should a player ever be suspended for something the player posts on Facebook or Twitter? Absolutely not. Doesn't everyone know the Internet isn't real, that whatever you say on there doesn't really count? Sorry, I kid. Of course, a player should be suspended for posting something really stupid online. I'm all for free speech, but you have to be willing to pay the consequences for saying the wrong thing or even saying the right thing the wrong way. I see Twitter posts every day by athletes that sound like the dumb things people may say in private, but of course, Twitter isn't really private.
Jason Jordan, Reporter
Definitely. Student-athletes have to be accountable for what they’re posting on all social media platforms. It teaches them to think before they act and that’s something that they’ll need in life, not just in sports.
Sarah Gearhart, Reporter
Suspension seems pretty harsh, so it depends on the degree of inappropriateness. When you're part of a team, you're automatically obligated to use social media responsibly. Whether or not the content you post is related to the team, you're still representing a part of it. I don't think people are always aware that anything you post can potentially be scrutinized and criticized. If you're willing to put something out there, prepare for potential consequences for your words.
Scott Allen, Content Producer
As some of my colleagues have pointed out, social media platforms are by their very nature public. Student-athletes should be accountable for everything they post. In most cases, I think coaches are justified in suspending a player for seriously inappropriate posts on social media. If a student-athlete is going to do something he knows he shouldn't be doing, it's best done offline. By the time you delete that tweet, it's usually already too late.
David Scott, Content Manager
This is a tough one. With social media, everyone has a sound board. I know how hard it is to fight the urge to say something in a time of frustration, but in this case, where do you draw the line? What is worth punishment and what is not? There would be a lot of gray area and things that would be up for interpretation. I can see why people would say yes, but some coaches are too paranoid as is and would probably read too much into a lot of posts and then take it out on the athlete. I say no.
NOW LET'S SEE WHAT A FEW STUDENT-ATHLETES AND A COACH HAVE TO SAY...
Ryan Green, Class of 2013, Football, Catholic (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
I think it’s fair because you’ve got to be accountable for your actions. You can’t just be posting crazy stuff on social media even if you’re just trying to be funny.
Ezekiel Elliott, Class of 2013, Football, John Burroughs School (St. Louis, Mo.)
I think so, definitely. When you’re an athlete people are watching you and you’ve got to be careful. With the attention of being an athlete come the responsibility to act like you’ve got some sense. By now everyone knows talking crazy on social media will get you in trouble.
Jarrad Davis, Class of 2013, Football, Camden County (Kingsland, Ga.)
Athletes are role models in some communities. Sometimes what players say on social networks can negatively influence underclassmen on the team. Also, you never know who is looking at you. Most of the time, a lot of profanity is used, and I'm sure people can get their point across without all of that. The way I see it, if you can say it to your mom or grandma, then you can put it online. But, if you can't, then it's probably inappropriate.
Marcellus Pippins, Class of 2013, Football, El Cerrito (El Cerrito, Calif.)
It depends on what kind of subjects the athlete is talking about because some things aren't always bad, but sometimes they are. When you start getting into things such as talking about people and swearing and saying words and quotes you know aren't right for social media, that's what makes athletes get into trouble.
Jeff Herron, Camden County (Kingsland, Ga.) Football Coach
I do think you should suspend players for what they say on the Web. It's the world we live in. We talk to our kids about it. What they put on the Internet can follow them the rest of their lives. We haven't had a lot of problems from a football standpoint, but I did have to get on J.J. Green (the team's top rusher) because he and a player from Peachtree Ridge (Suwanee, Ga.) Joe Horn, got into a back-and-forth on Twitter. It wasn't anything really wrong, but we didn't want to give Peachtree Ridge anything that could help them.